By Casey Demchak (@caseydemchak)
I met Casey at the recent Author U event in Denver, Colorado. It’s not every day you run into someone whose specialty is back cover copy for your book. This is one of the most important pieces of copy you’ll write, since it has a lot of work to do representing your book and showing people what’s unique, interesting, or especially valuable about what you have to offer. I asked Casey to point out the big things authors ought to be thinking about when it comes to the back cover, and here’s his response.
Every author knows the importance of a well-designed book cover can never be overstated. However, moments after being engaged by your cover, readers are going to flip your book over to read the back cover.
If your cover is good enough to grab readers, your back cover copy needs to convince them to buy. For authors who self publish this can be a challenge because writing promotional copy many not be their area of expertise. Plus, for many authors it’s never easy to “brag” about themselves and their own work.
Here are seven essential tips that provide you with a success formula for creating back cover copy that motivates your crowd to take action.
1. Start with a headline that makes or implies a promise
Headlines have two simple goals: capture the attention of readers and drive them into your body copy. You don’t need zippy, clever, sexy headlines to do this. In fact, simple headlines are usually the most enticing. Start your headline with an action word and then state or imply a promise of what readers can expect to gain from your book. Here are a few examples.
Learn Newly Uncovered Secrets about JFK’s Murder
Discover How to Think and Grow Wealthy
Find Out What Drives Serial Killers to Act
Thought-provoking questions are also a great way to grab readers.
Are you dying to know who wanted Marilyn Monroe dead?
2. Make your copy “at-a-glance” friendly
If your headline draws readers in, don’t lose them by using large blocks of text to fill out your back cover. Instead, make it “at-a-glance” friendly by employing a liberal use of headlines, subheads, short paragraphs and bullet points. This common sales writing technique creates a lot of open space around your copy, which visually makes it look fast and easy to read.
3. Choose exactly the right voice
Create a definite, confident voice for your back cover. Depending on your topic, your writing should emanate authority, compassion, wisdom, insight, humor, suspense, intrigue, mystery, etc. Choose a voice for your back cover that matches your book and fuel it with emotion.
4. Create a powerful rhythm
Think of the movie trailers you’ve seen for the films you love. They move at a steady rhythm and pace because their creators know they only have one minute to convince you to go watch a two hour movie.
The same can be said for a back book cover. You’ve got one page to motivate people to read your entire book. After you’ve written your back cover copy, it should have a beat and pulse to it that you can snap your fingers to as you read it.
5. Focus on what your book is about – not on what happens
It’s certainly acceptable to write about what happens in your book. However, focus your back cover much more on how readers will benefit from your book. What curiosity will you satisfy? What challenge will you help readers overcome? What itch are you going to scratch?
What thirst will you quench for your audience? What inner desire or need are you going to meet? Describe the human satisfaction and value readers will gain from reading your book. Take your writing to this level and your ability to motivate readers to buy increases dramatically.
6. Stir up human emotions
The only marketing messages that really move us are ones that grip us on an emotional level. Always describe the benefits readers will derive from your book in emotional human-value terms.
Think of it this way: you don’t read about anti-aging skin creams so you can get rid of wrinkles. You read about anti-aging skin creams to get rid of wrinkles so you’ll feel more youthful and vibrant. You don’t read a murder mystery to find out who did it. You read a murder mystery to stimulate your imagination and create a sense of intrigue and excitement within yourself.
No matter what your book is about, your crowd will read it to fuel specific emotions within them. Identify what those emotions are and use your back cover copy to stir them up.
7. Leave them wanting more
This technique requires a little practice, but always conclude your back cover in a manner that leaves your readers begging for more. Wet their beak. Tease them up. Give them the sizzle, but not the steak. However you want to phrase it, conclude your back cover so readers have no choice but to flip through your table of contents as they’re reaching for their wallet.
Casey Demchak is an author, speaker and recognized expert at writing highly-effective sales copy for coaches, authors and corporate clients. You can sign up for his free, weekly sales writing updates at www.CaseyDemchak.com.